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The Japanese-inspired lifestyle brand tokidoki, created by Italian artist and designer Simone Legno, started as a set of characters on a personal website and has since exploded into a wildly successful, and internationally recognized collection. tokidoki, Character Illustrator, Creative Inspirations explores Simone's techniques and methods for building some of his popular tokidoki characters using Adobe Illustrator. Take a peek into his sketchbook, and learn how he creates one of his popular skatedecks from start to finish.
(Music playing.) Simone Legno: Everything I design on Illustrator, like almost always, starts from a sketch. So now I will just sketch something simple for you to show you where everything starts. Generally, I sketch when I am on travel, because I get inspiration from people I have outside. I watch every item. I just try to filter it and transform it in my own way. So I am sketching like the Cactus Rocker, which is a new character that I have to do to continue the Cactus Friends series.
Like the Cactus Friends is one of the most popular-- probably it's the most popular series that we have in Tokidoki and I'll show you to make you an example about my inspiration, like the Cactus concept came in-- it was a lazy summer hot day. I was in South Italy, where it's very hot, and I was observing like this cactus plants that were around. So I watched one of them and they had two big ears, like a sort of a rabbit or mouse.
So everything really started from there. So the Cactus Friends are dressed up into a cactus suit to protect themselves from the bad things that are in the world. So I get started. Generally, I sketch. This is one of the most formal sketch books that I have, but I really like to sketch lots of characters, even like on tissues in a bar, or like a flier when I am on the bus, wherever I am in the world.
So it's not very important to have like a big sketchbook. Generally, I choose this kind of simple number 2 pencil to draw because first of all, they are very soft and it's very simple to draw with and of course you can cancel, if you make some error. Sometimes I draw with whatever I have. It can be like a normal pen, because for me it's important to just like, take a note of the idea.
Sometimes it's not something not very precise, very simple and I am on the street. I sketch a lot when I go to Japan, and then I just go back home and maybe like I copy that idea. I do it better on this more proper sketchbook, where like I save all ideas that probably in the future I want to develop with Illustrator and put it on some product. I sketch during the weekends or sometimes just before going to bed or I try like to keep the sketchbook open.
So when I walk around the house, like when I am going to kitchen, I just stop for a while and if I have some idea, I just put it down. Or sometimes, even if it's not a great idea, just for the pleasure of. Because any idea even if it doesn't look like that useful, I can bring to somewhere else. When I was a teenager, I used to like to sketch for the punk rock gigs that were in town. In Rome. I am from Rome. Then during high school, if you look at all the books I had, during the lessons I was always on the side doing little characters.
Okay and I just add some details. For example, I am enjoying this sketch, so like I put these details, the punk rock patches and stuff, but lots of times, it's just enough to design the body. So elements like the zipper or the like the cheeks, this kind of shades, it can be added just in Illustrator. I would have stopped. Sometimes it's just enough to have like the main lines. I have a new sketchbook. So I want to keep it nice, so I add all these details.
And between all these lots of lines I will chose when I trace it, like in vectors, I would choose exactly where I want it. It's probably, it's going to be here. When I was doing design school, I chose a branch that was more or like do or die advertisement. But then when there was a period that Flash started exploding, it was between Flash 3 and Flash 4. And I really loved the idea that I could make stuff animated.
So I started from there to develop more like this character world, because characters are simple. Both for expressions and the movements. To animate like a character, it's just enough to make their legs move and the short arms, they don't have like the fluid movements of a real human being. So like I started to keep on designing more and more illustrations. Illustrated characters just to throw them into Flash. And so during design school, my style it was more like-- it was more about actually learning like the tools and the major rules of graphic design, advertisement, the composition and that kind of stuff.
I think that developing like the style as you can see it right now, it's just the fruit of daily work and daily research and I think that if I see like the way, I was sketching one year-and-a-half ago, it was already different from now, and even if I see like some designs that I did when I started Tokidoki as a brand like two-and-a-half years ago, it's already like less colorful, less funky than what I do now. So like doing design it's a matter of growing together with your own design day-by-day and just keep on transforming it.
Keeping like some stuff for your style, it's a sort of backbone. But then keep on adding and keep on learning more because the design is something that is part of the history. So keep on changing and changing and especially when you do product and you product for fashion, like there is even some trends that it's good to feel them from the street and try to get them and follow the trends in your own way.
I need to design this for our new toy. So what I would do is not continue on designing because I have-- it's the moment that I have to design this one and I don't have time to keep on sketching, because generally sketching it's more like in a relaxing moment. So what I would do right now is just take it, put it into the computer, and start tracing it. (Music playing.)
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